22/36 Church Street, Liverpool L1 3AY
The first ever Woolworths store in the UK was opened on Church Street in Liverpool on the 5th November 1909. Liverpool was chosen due to it’s location, being a seaport and due to the fact it had an electric railway – in fact the next stores to open went along the railway track.
This postcard is from the online Woolworths Museum and you can read more about the first store here. It used to be the entrance to the Tatler Cinema, and if you look on Google, you can find photos of the cinema where you can see the same windows. The store had three floors and was always packed with customers, with famously long queues. But there was no way to extend the store. They closed the store and built a new one. Today the old store is now Clarks.
Source: Graham Soult, Soult’s Retail View
A huge new flagship store was built on 22 -36 Church Street (see above photo from the Woolworths Museum, building in the centre). It came out that Harrods were in talks to demolish a church and replace it with a department store, but they pulled out. That’s when Woolworths stepped in. The new flagship Woolworths store opened on 4th August 1923, and you can read more about that here.
Source: Chriscarma, Flickr
The store closed in the 1980s, and you can see in it’s glory from this amazing photo taken by Chriscarma on Flickr – such beautiful architecture. And below is a photo from the day it closed on 4th June 1983.
Source: Mayer, P.
And today the building still exists – it is Topshop, L’Occitane and the entrance to Liverpool One – a shopping arcade linking to Peter’s Lane.
Source: Liverpool Echo
Next time you are shopping in Liverpool and you walk past Clarks or walk into Liverpool One, look up and see a part of Woolworths history.
3-7 High Street, Redhill, Surrey RH1 1RE
Woolworths opened on Redhill High Street in 1924, two doors down from a public house (The Junction). You can see it below on the left side of this 1933 photo, the second shop in.
Source: Francis Frith
Here is a later photo from 1955, from another angle. Woolworths is on the right side and unchanged from 1933.
Source: Francis Frith
There are no more photos on the internet, but they expanded into the shops next door, so it spanned from 3 – 7 High Street. I would guess this happened in the 1970s when the high street was redeveloped.
In the 2000s, Redhill Woolworths was chosen to be a 10/10 trial store, which meant trying out the blue and red fascia and ‘ Woolworths’ in lower case as seen below. Personally I never liked this look. It was also a ‘Christmas store’ when head office would mock up what Christmas would look like instore when it was actually July.
Here it is on it’s last day of trading, 27th December 2008.
Today the building is occupied by Wilkos, looking a lot brighter now the grime has been painted over!
6 Grand Parade, High Street, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1BU
Woolworths opened on the High Street in Crawley on 26th July 1940. It was the last store in the chain to open for another 6 years, due to World War 2. Below you can see it’s the building with the awning and a car parked in front of it. The Woolworth architects had designed an upper balcony and a small turret on the roof.
Source: Grandma P’s Ramblings
This store closed in 1957 when they moved to the ‘new town’. The building was subsequently occupied by a Halifax branch, and today it is a Wetherspoons pub – The Jubilee Oak. The building has not changed at all.
17-19 Queens Square, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1EA
In the 1950s, Crawley was designated as a ‘new town’ by the government due to it’s rapidly expanding population. Woolworths moved from it’s small High St store to Queens Square where it opened as the largest self-service store of the 1950s.
Here is an extract from the Woolworths Museum:
“In 1957 Woolworth bosses went a step further, opening a much larger self-service store in Crawley New Town. A small store in the High Street was replaced by a much larger branch in nearby Queen’s Square. Executives hoped that a halo effect from the marketing of the new town, which portrayed it as ultra-modern, would help to break down customer resistance to the new format. The store layout included a number of new display ideas, with fully redesigned fixtures and fittings. For the first time gondola islands were used, with shelving from top to bottom, without understocks cupboards at the base. This style of shelving remains the standard for most retailers in the twenty-first century. At the time it was a first and proved quite controversial. Some customers complained that they had to stoop to pick up items on the bottom two shelves, while company bosses worried that the stock cost to fill the Crawley store was almost double the level of a comparable personal-service store. Despite the reservations of some older customers, the overall feedback from the Crawley shoppers was positive. Most liked the layout and thought the store was very up-to-date.”
Now here’s something random. You can buy a 252 piece jigsaw puzzle of the Crawley Woolworths 1950s store front from Amazon here. Shipped from America. Weird!
Here you can see it in 1971, looking a bit shabby after 14 years.
Source: Flickr, JR James Archive
Another random fact, Chico did an instore signing of his single D.I.S.C.O in Crawley Woolworths in August 2006.
Here is the store in 2008, before it closed later that year.
Today the building is occupied by Poundland. It was planned to demolish the building in 2013 as part of the Queens Square regeneration, but it is staying put and the actual square is being renovated now.
Source: Flickr, Ballysundriven
51/67 Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, Teeside TS1 5BT
The eighth Woolworths branch to open in the UK was at Middlesbrough, back in 1911. According to the 1913 Kelly’s Directory of North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, it originally opened at 91-93 Linthorpe Road, but then moved to bigger premises at 51 -67 in 1926 (pictured below).
Middlesbrough was bombed quite severely in WWII and Woolworths was hit. The store was rebuilt throughout the 1950s, reopening with a more modern look in 1959.
It traded for another 20 years before closing down in the 1980s when Kingfisher took over.
The building was split into 3 units and occupied by Currys, Champion and Fosters in the 1980s.
Today the building is now occupied by USC and River Island – the closed down unit was Currys.digital until recently. You can see from the below photo how imposing a building it was. It would have been quite a large Woolworths store.
In the 2000s, Woolworths returned to Middlesbrough as store 1200, which I’ll cover in a separate post.
51-52 Flowergate, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 3AT
Woolworths opened in the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby in 1930. It was in a interesting location, on a bend on a street called Flowergate. It backed on to St. Ann’s Straith which faced the harbour, and the land was on a hill going down on to the harbour. The architects designed the store in a way so that you couldn’t see the building’s steep incline from street level. The result was a recognisable Woolies frontage that looked a bit stretched.
This is the earliest photo I could find, from the 1980s. This is the Flowergate entrance, looking down the hill.
Source: Newble A.
And this is the other side of the building, facing the harbour, where you can see the frontage is taller than usual.
Source: McCulloch, S.
Here is the harbourside entrance from another angle.
Source: Godley, S.
After it closed down in December 2008, it became a Pine Valley store.
Source: Soult, G.
With the other side on Flowergate becoming The Wilderness Factory Outlet Store.
Source: Soult, G.
But today the whole building is occupied by Mountain Warehouse, which opened in 2013.
Source: Le Monde1
7 High Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire
Woolworths opened on Banbury High Street in 1931, according to the Banbury Guardian. It was built on the site of the Red Lion Hotel, below on the left, which was demolished to make way for the new store.
Source: Francis Frith
Here you can see the Woolworths store on the right of the photo in the 1960s.
Source: Francis Frith
Here are some wonderful photos of the interior from a lady who spent 30 years of her life working for “The old Woolworths”, courtesy of EddFrostDaughters Ltd.
In the 1970s store list, the address is listed as 7a, so the store must have been halved, and the Woolworths store was kept open on the right side (that’s the Abbey National side in the below photo). Mothercare may well have been there since the 1970s, as their first stores opened in the 1960s. Woolworths closed on the High Street in the 1980s. So there was a period of time when Banbury had no Woolworths. Abbey National moved into 7a.
7a High Street today is Santander, and you can clearly see from the windows above that this was the Woolworths building.
Unit 51, Castle Quay Shopping Centre, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 8UP
The Castle Quay shopping centre was first built in 1977. In 1999, it underwent an £85 million redevelopment and this was when Woolworths moved in. It had a new store number 1203. It was the second store you saw as you walked inside, so a good position, and it backed on to the canal.
Source: Flickr, BRG2
The store closed in December 2008, and when I visited the town in September 2009, the Woolworths fascias were still up, but it was being converted into an H&M, so it must have opened soon after. I visited Banbury again last week, and this is how the former Woolworths looks today from the inside of the shopping centre.
1-7 Wellington Place, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 1NY
In July 1926, Woolworths bought the block of 2-6 Wellington Place and 15-20 Pelham. The buildings were demolished, and in their place a large ‘3 penny and 6 penny’ store was built (Source: Hastings Chronicle). This is how the store looked in the 1950s:
Source: Hastings & St Leonards Forum
Below is a photo of the store in 1982, where you can see there has been a major makeover – I am guessing this took place in the 1960s.
Source: Popkin, A
This photo was taken when the underground walkway was being built.
Source: gandalfthegrey, Flickr
This is a 1990s photo where you can see the Woolworths fascia has been updated.
Source: Goldsteinleigh Investments
Source: JJ justin, Flickr
A more recent photo here, just before the store closed for good on 2nd January 2009.
Source: Snapper Jude, Flickr
It soon became a Sports Direct – here’s a photo we took last week whilst on holiday in Hastings. It’s a large, prominent store – you can’t miss it. They have painted the blue tiles grey, but apart from that is looks exactly as it did as a Woolworths. And even the 4 little roof windows are recognisable from the earlier 1950s photo – a real piece of history.
35-37 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1HF
Woolworths arrived in the Cornish seaside town of St Ives in the mid-1950s. The building they chose was set in a hill by the harbour, with the front facing the busy shopping area of Fore Street, and the back facing the harbour on Wharf Road.
Here is the front of the store on Fore Street.
Source: Flickr, Rutter R
And this is the harbour side on Wharf Road.
Source: Scaysbrook C
This is 8 days before they closed down.
Source: Flickr, textlad
The store closed on 2nd January 2009, becoming a Mountain Warehouse store on Fore Street, and a Pizza Express on Wharf Road.
Source: Lewis Investments
Other Cornish Stores you may be interested in:
Truro – Store 836
53-55 Station Road, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 4BE
I took the above photo from my car in December 2008.